Minsk Court upheld the ruling in Ales Belyatsky’s case
Minsk Court upheld the custodial sentence of four and a half years in a penal colony for Ales Belyatsky, the head of Human Rights Centre Vesna.
Mr Belyatsky’s wife has paid $90,000 to an account of the court, the sum the activist was ordered to pay by the first-instance as alleged tax arrears. The money had been collected through voluntary donations made during a fund raising campaign launched by Belarusian human rights defenders. Discharge of the payment order gave hope to Belarusian activists that the verdict will be revised. Yet, the court disregarded this fact as well as the legal opinion submitted by the Belarusian Helsinki Committee, challenging the allegations.
As a consequence of the court’s ruling, Vesna Human Rights Centre lost its office. The first-instance court ordered the confiscation of Mr Belyatsky’s property, including the premises in which the Centre was headquartered.
The international community was outraged by the trial court’s decision. It was condemned by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the European Commission and the Council of Europe.